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10-28-2011, 07:33 AM   #1
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Can't take it anymore

I have owned my first pentax DSLR for almost 5 years now. A K100d. Kit lens. Also purchased a Sigma 17-70 and a cheap 70-200.

To get right to the point. I simply can't take the autofocus system another day! There are no words to describe how bad it is.

" Veet veet veet veeeeeeeet veeet". If I hear that noise again I am going to go nuts. Searching...and searching...and searching and....out of focus shot.

I chose pentax over nikon because of the complete reverse compatibility of all lenses and most importantly the in body stabilization. I still love those features plus the weather sealing options. But I just cant take the damn searching and incredibly sub par autofocus. There is no reason why it should be so bad.

I have heard this has been improved with the K-r but there aint no way I can afford that. I work for a non profit...wife a social worker, three kids, school, braces. etc ....you get the idea. $750 - $1000 for a new body just isnt in the cards.

Any thoughts or ideas before I completely bail and jump ship?

10-28-2011, 07:55 AM   #2
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if you can’t afford, a K-r, what may I ask is your plan for ‘bailing and jumping ship’? I mean, if you can’t afford the entry level pentax, what are you looking to go to? the price of a canon or nikon entry level brand new won’t be any different from pentax, looking at the prices at B&H, and if you are looking at used bodies, then a used K-r/K-x or even a K-7 would be cheaper. I’m not arguing your frustration, I love nikons AF system and have been continuously blown away by it, even compared to the k7/k5, but if the AF system is the main reason you are switching, how can the prices be an issue? to upgrade your 5 year old AF system, its going to cost you about the same for a digital SLR, wether its a canon, a nikon, a pentax, or a sony.

pentax K-r w/ 18-55 $584
canon rebel T3i w/ 18-55 $783
nikon D5100 w/ 18-55 $750
sony A33 w/ 18-55 $600

these are B&H prices, so you can probably find deals here and there, etc. but these are baseline prices of the top manufacturers entry level cheapest cost cameras. if you can’t afford to upgrade to the pentax, then you can’t afford any of the others. if you are looking at a mirrorless camera then thats a different story, but I’m not quite sure I understand the nature of your rant if you are wanting to switch brands or ‘jump ship’ as its often reffered. where are you going? you say 750-1000 is too much, but all the above prices clearly show that right at or just under the ‘750’ dollar base price you list as being too much is right where the entry fee for a modern DSLR stands. well, the K-r is about 160 bucks below that, but still, its close. did you have any idea of prices or direction you wanted to go before making this rant? id like to be helpful here, but it doesn’t seem like you put too much thought into this before publicly venting steam.

if you plan on selling equipment to recoup some cost, then you should be able to afford any of these I would guess, or a used higher level body (if you are willing to take the associated risks) without issue, so if thats part of the plan, then the best I can say is test out as many as you can and see which brands AF performance you like the best, and then go from there. it is indeed true that Pentax’s AF has improved a great deal from the days of your K100D, so the K-r or the like could be a contender. but if the noise is an issue, then you should make sure that no matter what brand you choose, that you have a lens that doesn’t use a screwdrive AF system.

Last edited by séamuis; 10-28-2011 at 08:12 AM.
10-28-2011, 07:59 AM   #3
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I can say when I went from the K10 to My K7 I noticed a substantial improvement in AF speed. some of the noise you complain about is due to screw drive AF. SDM would eliminate that so possibly a good SDM/HSM lens and stick with the K100 may solve your issue (not sure if the K100 is SDM compliant never checked - edit checked unless it's a K100 super SDM isn't supported))
Certainly with an investment already in Pentax kit jumping to another brand will cost more than an upgrade). I'm not sure what other lenses you have accumulated in the interim.

With Nikon the kit lens is no where near the 17-70 Sigma for quality so you'll end up buying up.

the KR is 542 right now at BH no lens and 649 with the 35 2.4 prime

a Nikon 5100 with an 18-55 kit lens is 749 then there are the other lenses to deal with.

The latest version of your 17-70 is now HSM and should be quite silent in comparison (my Sigma 24-70 2.8 is also pretty good on the k7 - better than it was on my K10) it retails for 469. and you can probably get back 200-250 on your older model through the market i would think
10-28-2011, 08:12 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Seafood Quote
Any thoughts or ideas before I completely bail and jump ship?
The Nikon D90 is a great camera (with impressive AF) that is going for $400-500 these days on the used market. They can even be had with the "VR" (stabilized) kit lens, which also doesn't make the "vree vree vreeee" sound of screwdrive due to a SWM (silent wave motor - like SDM).

If the AF on your camera really bugs you (and you're missing shots), switch and carry on.

10-28-2011, 08:14 AM   #5
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All good points...and valid to some degree.

I have crunched some numbers as to what I could do. I feel like I could sell my body and 3 lenses for about $500.

I could get a used D80 in EX+ on KEH plus a sigma 18-200 for about $600. Minimal expense on my part. This would get me in the door with Nikon and then could again start building again. Sort of one step back but I don't neccessarily see it that way as I would be getting an improved, newer generation body, plus the autofocus system I would like. (newer meaning...newer than the K100)

I do realize that any new nikon glass would be really expensive...which was a detractor five years ago in my decision making.

If I stay with Pentax, keep all my glass. Sell my body for what? MAYBE $100...then Ive got to come up with at least $400 to get the Kr. $300 for a K20?

This is my dilemma.

Last edited by Seafood; 10-28-2011 at 08:26 AM.
10-28-2011, 08:27 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Seafood Quote
If I stay with Pentax, keep all my glass. Sell my body for what? MAYBE $100...then Ive got to come up with at least $400 to get the Kr. $300 for a K20?
the k20 likely won’t give you the AF performance you desire. the K-r might, but the clincher here is you complained about the noise or at least you made it seem to be a real issue. the use of SDM and other brands version of internal focus motors don’t really increase speed or accuracy, they simply make it very silent.(it does increase speed to some degree, but SDM, HSM, etc aren’t the biggest reason for a speed increase in AF performance) its up to the camera bodies AF system to increase the speed and accuracy. canon and especially nikon are indeed farther ahead of pentax here, but no matter the brand if you want a lens that will give you silent AF it will cost you, regardless of body or brand. you can get the speed and accuracy pretty well I think to what you are wanting by going canon or nikon (i would personally recommend nikon) but you will again still have to factor in the cost of upgrading lenses. just switching bodies isn’t going to be a one stop shop to fix all your frustrations.

is that sigma an HSM lens? the D80 is about the same age as your K100D no? I don’t know anything about the D80, s I can’t say, but you might want to make sure its AF performance is what you are expecting, before making a decision, being an older model I assume it won’t be as good as a more modern nikon equivalent.
10-28-2011, 08:29 AM   #7
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I also have a K100D and find that the AF works great if you have enough light. Instead of fighting with the AF, have you tried just switching to manual focus on those shots? Probably faster, more accurate, & less frustrating (and no vree-vree noise ) Something to try (if you haven't already) while you're shopping for an upgrade.
10-28-2011, 08:35 AM   #8
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D80 is about the same as a K10d (sensor is the same generation)
not sure it would be any different for you, and image quality would drop going from the 17-70 to that 18-200. All in one zooms are convenient but they really are less than impressive for IQ

the D90 is the logical lower priced Nikon to go for but you are still looking at spending a fair bit.
A good used K7 will be $600 or maybe less and will definitely improve the AF speed and accuracy (won't get rid of the screwdrive noise though)

Also I remember seeing a European magazine that rated the AF on top apsc models. the K5 placed second and significantly outperformed the canikon offerings for accuracy and was pretty competitive for speed

10-28-2011, 08:36 AM   #9
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i don't know where you're getting your numbers from, but a used k100d will sell on ebay for $200 to $300 with the kit lens. you can buy a used k-x on ebay for $350-$500 with the kit lens.
10-28-2011, 08:37 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
I also have a K100D and find that the AF works great if you have enough light. Instead of fighting with the AF, have you tried just switching to manual focus on those shots? Probably faster, more accurate, & less frustrating (and no vree-vree noise ) Something to try (if you haven't already) while you're shopping for an upgrade.
+1 on this my K10 used to hunt even with a 2.8 zoom i would switch to manual in low light a lot of the time (then i just went mostly manual with older fast primes - no noise there at all - aside from me cursing my poor eyesight
10-28-2011, 08:43 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
+1 on this my K10 used to hunt even with a 2.8 zoom i would switch to manual in low light a lot of the time (then i just went mostly manual with older fast primes - no noise there at all - aside from me cursing my poor eyesight
a good point to keep in mind, that regardless of AF performance, if you are using a one stop shop, do-it-all super zoom, your AF will be degraded by the slow lens. that of course isn’t to say it won’t still be better, because my sisters D90 and 18-105 nikkor still outperforms my K7 and FA 43mm limited in nearly all situations, and is completely silent doing it. also as noted above, the D90 will be a far better choice than the D80 in just about every respect, and I think you wouldn’t be doing yourself the best justice in upgrading by choosing the D80.
10-28-2011, 09:07 AM   #12
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before we go and completely trash the pentax system (again) lets get a few facts.

Most importantly, Under what lighting conditions are you shooting?

Next, Do you have the AF point set to center, as opposed to auto?

Both these can have a great impact on AF perofrmance. the lens may be searching for what it thinks you want to focus on.

I have used pentax DSLRs since the *istD, and have not had any issue with AF hunting unless I am using very slow lenses (at the F5.6 or slower maximum aperture) and in low light.

Note that AF will not work reliably on any makers cameras with lenses slower than F6.7 and AF performance degrades with both available light and lens speed.

WHile I don't disagree that other makers have better AF performance, you should note that pentax has revised the AF performance I believe 5 times since the release of the K100D so it has improved considerably.
10-28-2011, 09:20 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
WHile I don't disagree that other makers have better AF performance, you should note that pentax has revised the AF performance I believe 5 times since the release of the K100D so it has improved considerably.
but the cost of getting into the SDM game is prohibitive, and since the OP is clearly just as fed up with eth noise of the AF system as he is the performance, we have to keep in mind that it will be necessary that no matter what brand he chooses, he will have to have an SDM type of lens. unless the noise isn’t as big a factor s performance? the reason I think nikon would be the best choice, is because even with a Kr/K7/K5 he still will have a lens that is screwdriven. it may be fast and accurate enough for him, but will it be quiet enough? and if he can’t afford the cost outright to upgrade his pentax body, he won’t be able to afford an SDM lens. of course, will this (outside of the standard nikon or canon kit zooms, for which believe both are now ‘silent’ focusing and stabilized) be any different with another brand

upgrading to a newer pentax body will be the cheapest and easiest way to improve AF performance without any hassles or risks of an older generation used body. switching brands to canon or nikon (don’t really know about sony) will be the easiest way to solve both of his stated frustrations (AF performance and noise) but this is only the case if you can get a cheap ‘silent focusing’ lens, such as the standard nikon or canon kit zooms. pentax as of yet doesn’t have any cheap SDM lenses. the cheapest is the 18-135 ‘DC’, if I’m not mistaken. soif the noise is just as much a concern as the performance, then Pentax isn’t a viable option regardless of cost.

I personally think, given the OPs stated equipment list, that he would be best served by selling his gear, body and two lenses and using those profits to upgrade to a modern nikon or canon body with standard kit zoom, then he can save up for a longer ‘super zoom’ to replace the one he uses now. that would cover his current setup and solve both pieces of the AF issues. he could do this with either canon or nikon because both companies offer ‘silent focusing’ lenses in this cheaper ‘consumer’ category, where pentax does not. above all else, i think the OP is rushing into this, and if money is a real concern, then he needs to save up some before making a decision to switch, because the reality is, I don’t think he wil be able to reliably solve his issues with AF performance without spending at least some money.

Last edited by séamuis; 10-28-2011 at 09:38 AM.
10-28-2011, 09:22 AM   #14
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it is understandable that sometimes some cannot get along with some equipment -
it is neither the fault of the user - or equipment -
they just don't get along.

However it is well worthwhile examining what it is that causes this incompatibility -
otherwise changing equipment may not actually solve the problem.

I have a K100D and used it 2007-9 -
although it was not the fastest AF -
it was more than adequate -
certainly a lot faster, and more accurate
than I could focus manually.

I use only the center AF point -
but use pre-focus hold, recompose
I make sure I see the red indicator light up on what I am focusing on -
then glance down to see the green hex for focus confirmation, before recomposing.

I managed to get these with the humble(st ) 18-55 kit zoom:


EXIF attached.


Although it's only one of those high production freebee advertising magazines -
this was a full page in Atlanta's Finest magazine July/August, 2011 issue.

Of course since then I got a K-x - primarily because of its sterling HighISO performance - please see:

Kx in Use ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)

In the course of this I noticed that the K-x does focus faster -
but both the K100D and K-x were positive, and pretty decisive -
any time there was hunting - was either because the light was too low -
or the focus point was on something without enough features/contrast to focus on (user error).

I do occasionally miss the red focus indicator in the viewfinder with the K-x
(esp. in very low light when I can't see the markings in the viewfinder -
I have to resort to guesstimate of the diagonal crossing point)
the K-r removes that objection, and according to tests has also improved the AF over the K-x/K-7
(it's basically the less endowed version of the K-5 AF - and we don't hear much complaining of that)

Last edited by UnknownVT; 10-28-2011 at 09:59 AM.
10-28-2011, 09:32 AM   #15
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My K100D actually focuses better, not faster, than my K-r. I am sending the K-r in for adjustment, and I expect it will be fine then, but my K100D is sharp and true. It does hunt some in lower light. I say sell your Sigma lens and get a DA40 off the market. It is the fastest focusing lens in K-mount supposedly.
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